Whistleblower hotline: (213) 785-6098

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Antonio Will Stay In Town After All** (Well maybe not)

KFWB is reporting that Mayor Villaraigosa will not travel Monday to Dallas to meet with NFL officials as originally planned. Instead, he will stay in town while immigration protests are underway. However, Villaraigosa plans to stay in his office during the daytime protests, but may participate in an after hours protest.

Its unclear as to when the Mayor will travel to the NFL meetings, if at all.

**UPDATE: A spokesman for the Mayor says that Villaraigosa is indeed going to be taking a commercial flight Monday to the NFL meetings in Dallas. However, they will not confirm what time the Mayor's flight is nor if he will attend the immigration protest scheduled for later in the day.

Immigration Roundup

Monday is the big day where hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out to protest in favor of immigrant rights and against reform of illegal immigraton. A lot is flowing around the blogosphere and net, here is a round up:

Full Disclosure Network has a video blog entry entitled "Inside the Boycott: Legitimate or Racist?"

AP reports that in anticipation of employees not showing up, some meat companies are planning plant closures during the protests.

Antonio Villaraigosa is not going to be in Los Angeles for local protests, organizers are not happy about it. UPDATE: (Well then he said he was going to be here, but now maybe he's not)

Blogger Marta Donayre discusses the immigration issue from her perspective of being an immigrant who is also a lesbian and who experiences rejection from both of the communities she belongs to.

Steve Lopez in the LA Times reports that LA developer/political kingmaker Rick Caruso has given his employees the day off to protest; another immigrant however, does not have that luxury.

In preparation for the protests, the City is closing some streets and rerouting buses downtown. LADOT has issued maps with street closures for the Great American Boycott and We Are America protests.

Anti-illegal immigration protestors, The Minuteman Project, have erected a fence on the Mexican border.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Weekend Chunks

The LA Times is reporting that Councilman Alex Padilla's Chief of Staff, Felipe Fuentes, was arrested on suspicion of battery Thursday night at a campaign office for Padilla's race for the 20th State Senate District Democratic nomination. Police report there was some time of dispute and an individual made a complaint against Fuentes. No comment from Padilla at this time.

Want to heckle Rob "Meathead" Reiner as he tries to put his hands in your wallet again? Or perhaps you believe the economically wrong nonsense the washed up actor promotes with his questionable record on ballot measures. Either way, he's speaking to the West Valley Democartic Club on May 7th.

With the coming immigrant protests this Monday, a group of left leaning African American leaders have announced support for the protests.

38th Assembly District candidate Jim Alger has twin press releases over at Mayor Sam 2. In one, he declares victory in a recent debate, the other, the Alger campagin responds to personal attacks made on him and his family by supporters of his chief primary opponent, Lyn Shaw-Hilfenhaus.

State Senator Gloria Romero has announced she will close her legislative office on Monday, May 1st in observation of anti-immigration reform protests.

Where's Antonio? Not in LA. Today he was in Philadelphia at the Democratic Senate Annual Issues Conference Luncheon, then tonight off to Washington, D.C., for the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Word is that he will not be in LA for the May 1st Immigration Protests, but in Texas meeting with officials of the Mexican government.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Steve Howe, 48

Former Dodger Steve Howe, the relief pitcher whose promising career was derailed by drug and alcohol abuse, died Friday when his pickup truck rolled over in Coachella, Calif. He was 48.

Howe was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1980, the second in a string of three Dodger rookies of the year (Rick Sutcliffe and Fernando Valenzuela were the others). That year he saved 17 games, establishing a new rookie record. A hard-throwing left-hander, Howe's career was plagued by alcohol and cocaine abuse; he first checked himself into a substance abuse clinic in 1983, but a relapse resulted in him being suspended for the entire 1984 season. Over the course of his 17-year career, Howe would be suspended seven times.

Relief for Gas

With gas prices skyrocketing, legislators are proposing two steps to bring some relief to motorists. The Sister City is supporting both and urging you to write to member of Congress asking that both proposals be implemented. We also urge other bloggers to pick up this meme of "gas tax relief."

Senate Republicans propose a $100 tax rebate for taxpayers. Not only would this cover the increase in gas prices for drivers for some time, pumping the money back into the economy could do some good. We saw this with the 2001 tax rebate.

Democrats are proposing a temporary suspension in the 18 cents a gallon Federal gas tax. This would temporarily reduce money available for highway construction, but consumer spending could actually increase tax revenues by a greater amount.

These two measures won't necessarily lower gas prices but could provide some relief to taxpayers and a boost to the economy.

Below are links to the email addresses of California's Congressional Delegation.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Friday

Joseph Mailander writing over at Martini Republic has a review of PBS' "The New Los Angeles." Though Mailander counts himself among the "leftie labor leaners," he finds the documentary's strong pro-labor union stance leading it to distort the facts. Check out Mailander's review here.

LA City Nerd has proposed an anti-graffiti plan for the city. While some of the things are stuff that is already being done or has been tried, he brings some good ideas to the forefront. His greatest hope is to get a discussion going amongst blogs, and we're glad to oblige.

A number of Latino owned businesses and businesses that primarily cater to Latinos plan to close or not buy or sell goods for this coming Monday's "Great American Boycott." On the other hand, a number of workers and business owners say they can't afford to participate in the boycott.
City of LA Meetings for Friday

8:30AM - Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence & Youth Development - Special Meeting
9:00AM - Intergovernmental Relations Committee Meeting
9:05AM - Intergovernmental Relations Committee, Special Meeting
10:00AM - Los Angeles City Council
1:00PM - Budget & Finance Committee Special Meeting

Where's Antonio?

Where's Antonio? Handing out awards to soap opera producers? Nope. Speaking at some group awards dinner at a local hotel? Not quite. Bicycling the length of the Orange Line with Lance Armstrong? Nope. Mayor Villaraigosa is spending Friday in Memphis, speaking at the National Conference of Black Mayors, where he will receive the President's Award.

Open Thread for Friday

Jackie Goldberg is an American teacher and politician, and a member of the Democratic Party. Goldberg has represented the 45th Assembly district of California, beginning in 2001. Prior to serving in the Assembly, Goldberg served as a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

Goldberg is one of the two lesbians in the State Assembly (the other one is Sheila Kuehl).

Some Californian's concerned about Democratic incumbent Diane Feinstein's lack of respect for citizen's privacy rights and weak response to the President Bush's wire-tapping program are asking Californian's to write-in Jackie Goldberg for U.S. Senate in the November 2006 election.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Spanish Star Spangled Banner

By Jennifer Solis

When I was an elected officer of my high school’s Title One Committee, made up of Belmont parents, students, teachers and administrators, I wondered why we started each monthly meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish?

When I inquired to the LAUSD district officials who supervised the group, I was told that very few of the parents speak any English. All of the meetings were also conducted in Spanish, with English version headsets, usually spoken by a paid translator who knew little English.

This week we have been treated to the next logical step in reconquista progression: the Spanish version of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The most popular version is sung by Gloria Trevi and friends, and there are only a few changes in the lyrics – but in June there will be a version that contains many pro-immigration changes in the anthem’s wording.

The idea came from Adam Kidron, a British music executive, who says he sympathized with the recent immigration demonstrations. “Nuestro Himno,” or “Our Anthem,” has all the things you want an anthem to have, and it carries the melody, he stated.

Among the changes the current version has made are: (English) “And the rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,” to Spanish, “In the fierce combat, the sign of victory, the flame of battle in step with liberty through the night, it was said, it was being defended.”

A remix to be released in June will contain several lines that condemn U.S. immigration laws, including: “These kids have no parents, cause all these mean laws,” and “Let’s not start a war with all these hard workers, they can’t help where they were born.”

The “Star Spangled Banner” has survived many extreme versions in the past, such as the explosive guitar rendition by Jimmy Hendrix, and soul singer Marvin Gaye, as well as many terrible attempts at L.A. Dodgers baseball games – everyone can remember the worst they’ve ever heard. For me, it was sung at my high school graduation. The singer even burped halfway through the anthem.

If translating a country’s anthem into another language turns out to be a good idea, we should have Madonna make a recording of “Ardulfurataini Watan,” the Iraq national anthem, in order to win the hearts and minds of the people whose country we occupy.

Rocky Pulls Out All Stops** Updated

State Attorney General candidate Rocky Delgadillo is finally picking up some support. Former child actress and current Screen Actors Guild President Melissa Gilbert will be annoucing her support for the City Attorney in his quest. Gilbert's endorsement - to be announced in front of a Planned Parenthood office - is part of a last minute effort by Delgadillo - down as much in 41 points in head to head polls against his primary opponent Jerry Brown - to paint Brown as being anti-abortion rights.

In the meantime, Brown has picked up the endorsement of environmental group Vote the Coast.

UPDATE: Melissa "Half-Pint" Gilbert must have been head off at the pass by Nellie Oleson as she was a no-show for Rocky's press conference, as was most of the press save for one reporter from the Daily Journal.


What If They Gave a Hearing and No One (From LA) Came?

Tuesday, a State Senate committee approved a bill that would remove one of the seats assigned to the City of Los Angeles on the Metropolitan Transit Authority board.

No one from the City of LA was there to oppose the measure nor offer any alternative.

Wednesday, the City Council did introduce a resolution opposing the measure. Kind of like closing the barn door after the subway has left.

Some other cities in LA County feel that Los Angeles has too much influence on the board and are hoping to assign the seat to a representative of South Bay area cities.

Considering the Mayor wants to build a "Subway to the Sea," its got to be a little embarrassing that he didn't make the hearing.

I think he was honoring a soap opera that day.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Thursday

Two local blogs are dealing with traffic in LA in different ways. Here In Van Nuys is begging for a monorail system down the 405 which could cut the commute time between the Valley and Marina Del Rey down to 20 minutes. A new blog, LA Traffic Sucks, is starting first to find out why indeed LA traffic sucks, and then will begin to discuss possible solutions.

The Canadian transplants at We's In California are marveling at all the different types of food stores one finds in Los Angeles. On the other hand, author Gareth hasn't quite got the nerve to buy produce from trucks that ply his neighborhood because he's afraid his lack of Spanish fluency would embarras him.

The Daily News reminds us that downtown developer Eli Broad promised no public funds for his grand scheme for Grand Avenue. Now, he hints at a figure of at least $440 million in public funds to develop a hotel and other properties. Not one hotel chain and not one major retailer has committed to taking space in the project - which should be a sign that the project doesn't make sense. When the city can't afford the police officers it needs nor pave the streets, its hardly time for giveaways for millionaire fat cats.

City of LA Meetings for Thursday

9:00AM- Budget & Finance Committee Meeting, SPECIAL MEETING

Where's Antonio?

First off, Mayor Villaraigosa will hold a news conference to endorse Proposition 82, the Universal Preschool Initiative, then its off to the 12th annual Central City Association's "Treasures of Los Angeles."

Finally, Thursday evening, the Mayor will deliver remarks at a reception welcoming the Daytime Emmy Awards to Los Angeles.

Far as we know, no legislative hearings he should know of, but if you hear of any, please call the Mayor's office.

Open Thread for Thursday

George Jefferson was a Republican!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Race To Be Earliest

By Jennifer Solis

There’s no doubt that the current presidential primary process has made California irrelevant in the sweepstakes to choose a political party’s nominee.

But the bill (AB2949) passed Tuesday by the California Assembly Elections Committee to make our state hold the first nationwide primary is both unrealistic and fails to address the real problem facing voters who actually want to help select the leader of the free world.

Orange County Democrat Assemblyman Tom Umberg, who authored the pending legislation, thinks that because his bill “requires [our] Secretary of State to schedule California’s presidential primary election so that it is held before, or on the same day as, the presidential primary held in any other state,” that this will really happen. Wrong!

New Hampshire has a long standing law that requires that state to hold its primary at least seven days prior to any other state. So what will AB2949 give us? A progressively moved up schedule of dueling election days that could end up holding the 2008 primary this summer (of 2006). In the end, one of the states would have to give in. Which one?

The disenfranchisement of California voters in the presidential selection will not be solved here in California. It must be addressed at the national level. The solution must also include the elimination of the California Republicans' “winner-take-all” system, that results in a candidate finishing a close second in the primary getting shut out at the national convention.

Because California holds one of the final elections of the primary season, by which time, the race is all but over, none of the candidates are encouraged to come into our state, and seriously talk about issues important to Californians. The only candidate appearances are for fund raisers, such as President Bush’s visit to the Southland this past weekend. We serve no other purpose than an ATM machine.

AB2949 would allow the presidential primary voting to be performed by mail. Everyone would use the equivalent of an absentee ballot. Umberg estimates the cost at about $40-million – half the cost of precinct voting. Could there be sufficient security? Surely, we must have the ability to develop procedures that couldn’t be hacked or compromised.

The one good aspect of Umberg’s bill would separate the presidential race from the other statewide offices and propositions. The regular primary for the latter would continue to be held the Tuesday following the first Monday in June. Presidential politics are considerably different from state and local issues, and should be voted upon separately. But when?

The decision of when to choose party candidates for president must come from an appointed election commission, which will set the presidential primary dates for all 50 states. The best method would be to group the 50 states into ten regions of five states each. The election dates for each region would be determined by lottery – such as drawing them out of a hat. The entire procedure would be repeated every four years, to give every state, or group of states, an equal chance at being early, last or somewhere in between.

The primary elections would start the first week of April and end ten weeks later in early June. That allows at least two months to prepare for the national conventions, which should be much more meaningful and exciting (read TV ratings) by having the states send delegates selected on a proportional basis, according to each candidate’s share of the states' primary voting. Independent and “decline-to-state” voters could vote in only one of a major party’s primary, but could choose another party four years later.

The current system of allowing New Hampshire and Iowa, the first two states to select primary candidates, gives them unrealistic influence over the overall process. Their procedures for these selections have little to do with choosing successful national standard bearers who have broad-based appeal. Being victorious in the NH elections or the Iowa caucuses relies more upon precinct organization and local endorsements.

A national candidate must have a campaign based on a strong message, and the ability to speak well on television.

Why not have a national primary, for all 50 states, in June? The cost would be prohibitive. Just look what it costs just to run a Senate campaign in California. The candidates would simply select a few “swing” states in which to campaign, as is now done prior to the November general election. The national conventions, which showcase each party’s message, and allow for a possible “dark horse” to emerge with the nomination, would become extinct.

So thanks, Assemblyman Umberg for trying. If your bill somehow passes the legislature and is signed by the governator, at least the competition with New Hampshire should be fun. But in the final analysis, election reform is a national problem, and will not be corrected in Sacramento.

Latest Angelides Girls Commercial

For those of you wanting more of the Angelides girls, here you go.

What Message Will May Day Protest Send?

By Jennifer Solis

I was invited to attend a “teach-in” this evening of one of the organizations planning the May 1st celebration of International Workers’ Day, aka “A Day Without Immigrants.”

The protest next Monday will encourage all immigrants, legal and illegal, to refrain from going to work, to school, or making any purchases. Looks like the stores will be crowded on Sunday.

I was asked if I could accompany one of the leaders to Belmont High School to meet with the administration to get permission to leaflet the campus in order to advertise the event. I asked the leader, “What will you say when we are asked if we are going to encourage students to skip classes on Monday?”

After a few seconds of silent contemplation, he responded that it is important to make a statement that there should be justice for all immigrants. When I pressed him again, if that statement includes asking Los Angeles students to not attend school, he said, “Yes, that’s our goal.”

Many of those at the session started questioning if this was really a good idea. I reminded them of the effect of seeing all the Mexican flags at the March 25th march downtown, and suggested that promoting truancy might have the same negative effect.

We decided that it would be better to have the students stay in school Monday, and at the 3:24 pm dismissal, to have a bus parked in front to take anyone who wanted to participate in a march starting at MacArthur Park at 4 o’clock, organized by the Koreans and CHIRLA and a few other groups.

I was told that Cardinal Roger Mahony had agreed to be present at the MacArthur Park rally. I can’t believe that he will show up. The prelate is about one strike away from being indicted for his role in the pedophile priests cover-up. I suspect that rather than show up at a public rally, he is holed up with his computer checking out Expedia for a one-way ticket to Vatican City. But that’s another subject.

There is a deep division among, and within, organizations planning the May 1st protest. Many companies have already notified their employees that if they miss work on Monday, then don’t bother to show up on Tuesday, or any other day. If the message to American is to stress how important immigrant labor is to the country, is it not counter-productive to withhold that labor for the sake of a protest?

Some firms are closing down on Monday to support their employee’s desire to participate in something they believe to be important to themselves and their families. They simply shifted next week’s work schedule to be from Tuesday thru Saturday. Many schools are allowing their students to come to class the following Saturday, in order not to be classified as truant.

No word yet if the State Board of Education will dock the LAUSD its ADA funds for Monday absences, even if class time is made up on Saturday. No one believes that a few hours on Saturday will make up for a lost full day of learning.

I could be wrong, but I believe that all of these marches and protests have simply galvanized most of America, and especially the African-American population, about the negative aspects of illegal immigration. We’re not just talking about the most visible Hispanics marching in the streets – but also the millions who have overstayed their temporary visas, and the almost half-million for whom there are already deportation warrants yet to be executed.

When I asked the group if the compromise for obtaining amnesty would include acceptance of a border wall that not even a cockroach could cross, everyone in the room had an excuse why this was unfair. Other than the obvious “reconquistas,” who don’t recognize such a border, these immigration “rights” leaders have not yet come to the political reality that you can’t have one without the other.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Flowing Shit In The 38th

As many of our readers know the 38th AD has seen its share of dirty campaigning, usually directed at Democrat Jim Alger. As the most well known of candidates in the 38th, Alger has come under increasingly scathing attacks both on and off this blog. This old, dead, Republican Mayor has learned that in the political arena when a candidate is behind and it doesn't look good, shit, or mud, hits the fan. Witness the desperate attacks by Rocky Delgadillo against his 41 point ahead opponent, Herry Brown.

At a recent LA County Young Democrats event, a supporter of Alger's main primary opponent - Lyn Shaw-Hilfenhaus - shouted at the top of their growing lungs, "Is it true you are a convicted felon?" Alger promptly replied "No, thank you for the question." This came not long after all candidates pledged to not run any negative campaigns and to hold their supporters accountable as well.

The most recent charge lodged against Alger, that he has multiple convictions for check fraud in Duval County Florida appears to stem from a public records search. Working in an industry that makes heavy use of background checks for both our employees and customers, I can tell you that these searche reports come with a disclaimer instructing the user that the information "should be independantly verified" and "not relied upon." The charge against is particularly scathing because Alger has been running a campaign of disclosure, even disclosing his scrape with the law over 10 years ago, a case that was eventually dismissed. It would be a daming indictment of a candidate for public office who would acknowledge one incident but hide another. It would raise concerns of candor, honesty and trustworthyness if it were true.

The Sister City has come into possession of official government documents that show Alger was never arrested for or convicted of anything in the state of Florida whatsoever (click image above). As an old friend once taught me, your opposition research is only as good as the due diligence to which you have approached it. Whoever found what they thought was a gem of a stone to toss at Alger, literally stepped on their, well, you know what.

It amazes me the level of venom that Mr. Alger inspires from a small segment of the local landscape. Indeed, past friends from my days within the Democratic party have contacted me, literally begging us to slam Mr. Alger. But every charge so far just is unfounded. Among other things, the virtiolic, hateful campaign practices of the Democratic party is just one of the reasons I switched my registration to Republican. Some of the comments made about Mr. Alger, his wife and family are just repugnant and those who have made them should be called on the carpet.

If you don't like and agree with a candidate - talk up yours! Its sheer, hateful, nasty political attacks on candidates - like we have seen against Jim Alger - that drives more and more people away from politics and voting.

Shame on you people!


Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Tuesday

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Bernard Parks and members of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission will hold a news conference to discuss an upcoming presentation to the National Football League. This comes on the heels of reports that the NFL is not only considering bringing one football team to the Memorial Coliseum, but two.

Former Riordan staffer Alexander Rosas announced Monday night his candidacy for the Alhambra City Council. Rosas worked in a number of capacities promoting economic development in Los Angeles over the least decade.

Brian Center is a Democrat running for the 44th State Assembly District. The 44th covers chunks of San Gabriel Valley including Pasadena and Monrovia, as well as parts of Northeast Los Angeles. The seat is currently held by the termed out Carol Liu. Center has a very well done website and has a feature that has intrigued this old, dead Republican Mayor: Top 10 Reasons Government Is Off Center. His first entry at #10 is A Call For An End To Legislative Per Diems.

The folks up in Leona Valley who don't like Sheriff Baca and his plans to allow a drug rehab facility in their community have updated their site that documents the Sheriff's connections to the Church of Scientology. View it here.

City of LA Meetings for Tuesday

8:30AM - Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee
9:00AM - Education & Neighborhoods Committee Meeting, Canceled
10:00AM - Los Angeles City Council
2:00PM - Planning & Land Use Management Committee Meeting
2:00PM - Information Technology and General Services Committee Meeting
3:00PM - Audits & Governmental Efficiency Committee, Special Meeting

Where's Antonio?

What's Antonio up to today? Well besides the aformentioned Coliseum press conference, and a photo op for a CRA project with Dennis Zine in the Valley, he will present a commendation to Bradley Bell, head writer and executive producer of "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Open Thread for Tuesday

Archie Bunker was a fictional character in the long-running and top-rated American television sitcoms All in the Family and Archie Bunker's Place. He was a reactionary, bigoted, blue-collar worker and family man, played to acclaim by Carroll O'Connor. The Bunker character was first seen by the American public when All in the Family premiered in January 1971. In 1979 the show was retooled and renamed Archie Bunker’s Place due to the departure of family members Gloria and Michael, finally going off the air in 1983. Bunker lived in the borough of Queens in New York City—many sources say in the Corona neighborhood, although that neighborhood was never referenced on All in the Family itself. TV Guide once named Archie television's greatest character of all time.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Baaaaaaaaaa-d Advertising

By Jennifer Solis

My best prediction for this summer travel will be an increase in roadside advertising featuring sheep and other animals wearing jackets with company logos. This “sheepvertisement” started in the Netherlands, and is spreading to the British Isles.

How long will the idea take to reach California, and specifically northern Los Angeles county?

Of course, PETA and the other “cruelty to animals” will object. The ACLU may even file a lawsuit or two, but on which side? Freedom of speech?

We see humans standing on street corners either wearing “sandwich” signs, or spinning those ridiculous cardboard arrows touting the newest apartment complex. I’ll bet a sign on a large animal would attract at least as much, or more attention – and the required benefits and wage taxes are bound to be less.

The hotel chain in the Netherlands which pioneered the sheepvertising says it has increased business this year by more than 15-percent. The only known opposition has come from the mayor of Skarstelan, who claims it violates restrictions on roadside advertising. He threatened to fine the company one euro per day per sheep.

Hotels.nl director Michael Nagel says he’ll pay the fine, if forced to – it’s still worth it. And besides, Nagel claims, the scheme benefits the local farmers with extra income. The blankets help keep the lambs warmer in winter months, and keep most of the fleece clean, which makes it more valuable. It also keeps the meat on a meat lamb in better shape.

Actually, the sheep aren’t doing anything different than we humans, wearing company logos on our clothes – buying a “_____” sweatshirt in order to promote sweatshops in Indonesia. And there is that immutable axiom of advertising: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

Next, we’ll probably see black leather model blankets, with zippers and metal studs, to scare the wolves. The farmer can retire his dog.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Monday

Northridge West Neighborhood Council President Jim Alger was honored by the California Junior Chamber as one of 13 Outstanding Young Californians Saturday evening in Irvine. Among other things, the organziation recognized Alger for his efforts for Hurricane Katrina relief. In his acceptance speech, Alger noted this blog and its role in spreading the word about his mission that eventually led to put him in touch with Gulf Coast area government officials who asked for his assistance. Among the other LA County area winners of the award were Los Angeles City Attorney Neighborhood Prosecutor Anthony Paul Diaz of Pasadena, Fox 11 News reporter Nischelle Turner of Pasadena, teacher-activist-author Priscilla Tjio-Hervey of Duarte, community activist-businessperson April Aston-Price of Santa Clarita and Long Beach Police Reserve Officer David Madigan.

Los Angeles homeless advocate Ted Hayes has joined the anti-illegal immigration group, The Minutemen, and is part of a group of other African Americans who are coming out in opposition to uncontrolled immigration. Hayes and the other leaders note the impact illegal immigration particularly has on the Black community, calling it the "biggest threat to blacks in America since slavery."

Animal activists are raising concern over the LA City Council supporting legislation proposed by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine that would set requirements on space required in zoos for elephants. The activists are concerned that the standards set are based on faulty science and are not appropriate for the well being of the animals. As you may remember, this blog has come out against building a new elephant exhibit at the LA Zoo and is supporting relocating the zoo's current collection of pachyderms to a preserve where they would be better off than in the cramped quarters at the zoo.

The Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging will hold elections for the California Senior Legislature, which identifies senior concerns, develops proposals and advocates for the inclusion of those concerns in legislative proposals of the state Legislature.

City Controller Laura Chick will hold a news conference to release her audit of the Los Angeles Fire Department's staffing of the 911 dispatch centers. The audit reviews areas for opportunities for efficiencies and evaluates the possibility of using more civilians as call takers rather than sworn firefighters.

A new local blog that takes a decidely anti-President Bush tone has hit the blogosphere. Empire Falls has a lot of liberal hoo-haw we don't agree with, but we salute their efforts and find their blog to be interesting.

LA City Meetings for Monday

10:00AM - Public Safety Committee Meeting
1:00PM - Budget & Finance Committee Meeting, CANCELED

Open Thread for Monday

A group of firemen responding to an alarm in Camden, New Jersey, is televised on this day in 1936. It was the first time an unplanned event was broadcast on television, anticipating the development of live TV news coverage.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ed Davis, 89

Ed Davis, the tough-talking former Los Angeles police chief who led the department during its shootout with the Symbionese Liberation Army and the arrest of Charles Manson, died Saturday, a family spokesman said. He was 89.

Davis died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital in San Luis Obispo, family spokesman Rob Wilcox said. He had been hospitalized since April 12, and his condition worsened Friday night, Wilcox said.

Davis, who also served three terms in the state Senate, rose through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department from street cop to chief from 1969 to 1978.

He led the LAPD through some of the most high-profile and shocking cases of the 1960s and '70s, announcing on Dec. 1, 1969, the arrest of Charles Manson.

In 1974, police officers engaged in a fiery, televised gun battle with members of the Symbionese Liberation Army after the group had kidnapped heiress Patricia Hearst and gone on a violent rampage.

Known for his controversial statements, in 1972 Davis suggested reinstating the death penalty in California to punish airline hijackers.

"I recommend we have a portable gallows, and after we have the death penalty back in, we conduct a rapid trial for a hijacker out there and hang him with due process out there at the airport," Davis said.

The proposal earned him the nickname "Hang 'Em High Ed."

Still, other critics called him "Crazy Ed," and the chief became so incensed by news coverage he considered unfair that he once publicly canceled his subscription to the Los Angeles Times.

Davis was popular with many Los Angeles residents, and under his watch crime in the nation's second-largest city decreased by 1 percent, while it rose elsewhere.

The Republican resigned in 1978 to pursue a political career, and was elected in 1980 to his first of three terms in the California Senate. He also made unsuccessful bids for governor and U.S. senator.

He retired from politics in 1992, and the same year the Rodney King riots turned him into a vocal critic of his former police department.

He called on his successor, Daryl Gates, to resign and recommended that future police chiefs be limited to two five-year terms. The recommendation was subsequently adopted.

Davis was survived by his wife, Bobbie Trueblood; his children, Michael Davis, Christine Coey and Mary Ellen Burde; and four stepchildren.

Ed Davis last television interview with Full Disclosure, click here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Open Thread for the Weekend

Mayor Sam is going to be pretty busy today and tomorrow making final arrangements for the Outstanding Young Californian event. So no major posting from me, but I am sure my partners will have tid bits for you.

Now, here's the challenge from this old, dead Republian mayor - lets see how long of an open thread we can get going here. Throw out all the topics - AV, Alger, Home Depot, animals, illegal immigration, streets, the airport, Dennis Zine, homelessness, Jack Weiss, police protection, Alex Padilla, trash, the County Seal, Rocky, subway to the sea, Janice Hahn and her goats, etc., etc., etc. By Sunday, lets see if we can break the record for posts on one message.

Blog away dum dums!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Opposite of "Grassroots" is "AstroTurf"

There's nothing I hate more than all those slick, feel good, political brochures that show up at my house around election time. You know the ones- they feature photos of actors posing as concerned citizens perfectly postioned around the candidate , hanging on to their every word as they make some point about jobs , healthcare, etc.
My theory is that the more perfect teeth you see in these photos, the more scandals we'll get if the guy gets elected.
So imagine my surprise when a very similar looking brochure arrives at my house a couple of days ago, complete with lots of smiling teeth, feel good messages, "We Care" slogans, pictures of healthy rainforests, and kids smelling flowers in a beautiful field of green.

Except this brochure is not from a candidate for office looking for my vote!

It's Home Depot trying to soft sell us the Orange Lifestyle. The brochure even comes with a handy detachable response card requesting contact information and a message that they will soon be coming to our town to meet with our residents.

Hmm, that's funny, we've been trying to get them to meet with our community for over a year. Could this be a change of heart? Are they ready to finally address the issues? Why did they spend all this money on a fancy brochure, when they could have just called us?
The answer is very simple, this is a typical technique that Home Depot employs in communities where there is stiff opposition to their project.

They are on a "fishing expedition"...... for any supporters they can find.

They want to try and put together a "Pro Home Depot Campaign".

They need a group of supporters to parade around at City Meetings.

They need to create a rift in the community.

They need to divide and conquer, because what they really want, their singular reason for existence, what they absolutely have to have more than anything else in the world, is..... another Home Depot store just minutes away from their other Home Depot stores!

And then I notice something else on the response card. The return address is to a westside PR company by the name of
Dakota Communications.
The same Dakota Communications that lists many present and former elected members of State & Local government as their clients. ( link; http://www.dakcomm.com )

According to some attorneys we spoke with there is no legal conflict of interest here,
but as my grandfather used to say, "Son, that's one stinky fish! If you eat it, you're on your own!"

Say it ain't so, Sam!

Learn more at;

Rocky Can't Beat Back the Moonbeams


The Field Poll, California’s most authoritative independent poll, shows Jerry Brown with a 41 point lead over Rocky Delgadillo in the race for California Attorney General. The San Francisco Chronicle today called Brown’s lead “commanding”. Among Northern California voters, Brown has a blow-out 67 point lead. This latest poll confirms 3 earlier surveys and shows Brown--with the June primary just weeks away--gaining substantial momentum.

In addition to this commanding lead, Jerry Brown’s endorsers now include: Al Gore, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Gray Davis, Hilda Solis, Howard Berman, Ellen Tauscher, Diane Watson, Lynn Woolsey, Sam Farr, Doris Matsui, Yvonne Burke, Gloria Molina, Martha Escutia, Dean Florez, Mike Machado, Nell Soto, Tom Torlakson, Mervin Dymally, Ira Ruskin, Rudy Bermudez, Ed Chavez, Fran Pavley, Joe Nation, John Burton, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mayors Gavin Newsom and Miguel Pulido, Ira Reiner, Alice Huffman, The Sierra Club, California League of Conservation Voters, California Nurses Association, United Farm Workers, UAW, California Faculty Association, California School Employees Association, CWA, SEIU, UFCW 588, AFSCME, Statewide Teamsters, PORAC, IBEW Locals 100, 180, and 340, Plumber and Pipefitters Local 409, San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, California Democratic Council (CDC), Alice B Toklas Democratic Club, San Francisco Young Democrats, Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club, California Association of Police Chiefs, Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, San Mateo County Deputy Sheriffs, Fresno Police Officers Association, Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County, Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County, San Diego Deputy Sheriffs, San Francisco and Oakland Police Officers Association, Pasadena Police Officers Association, Sonoma County Law Enforcement Association, San Bernardino County Safety Employees Association, State Coalition of Probation Organizations, Sheriff Plummer, Sheriff Laurie Smith, Police Chief Tucker, Police Chief Word, District Attorney Kamala Harris.

The Field Poll has operated continuously since 1947 as an independent and non-partisan public opinion survey. During its long history, The Field Poll has acquired a national reputation as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of public opinion trends in California. Since 1984 the average deviation between the actual percentage vote for the winning candidate and his/her support in the final poll has been just 1.7 percentage points.

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Open Thread for Thursday

This old, dead Republican Mayor is off for the day, so you get to be the blogger. Feel free to post any of your favorite topics, news stories, quips, quotes, happenings, gossip, etc. Just try to behave somewhat. Blog away dum dums!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mayor Would Subordinate School Board to Superintendent

By Jennifer Solis

It took Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about 25 minutes into his 35-minute State of the City speech this evening, to get to what everybody was waiting to hear – his plans to reshape the Los Angeles Unified School District.

He proposed two major changes in how the three-quarter million student school district will be run, if he can get the state legislature, and possibly the district’s voters, to change the charter under which the LAUSD is operated.

The mayor would turn control of the district over to the superintendent, with the elected school board reduced to being simply a clearinghouse for complaints and parental input.

A council of local mayors, with the Los Angeles mayor having by far the most power, since the control is population proportional, will hire and fire the superintendent, and set the budget.

This plan would run on a six year trial basis, after which the state legislature could change or end the experiment.

Here are some of the quotes from the mayor’s message on the LAUSD:

“Unless we solve the crisis in our schools, we shall never truly hold ourselves to account.

“We can’t be a great global city if we lose half of our work force before they graduate from high school… Eighty-one percent of middle school students are trapped in failing schools.

“We won’t tap our talent – L.A. won’t be one city if we just shrug our shoulders and adopt the path of least resistance.

“We need to make our schools more accountable by giving the superintendent far greater operational control. We need to change the funding equation and move resources from the downtown bureaucracy to the classroom.

“We need to abandon the one size fits all approach and give educators the freedom to innovate. Teachers should be respected as professionals. We need to trim the fat and beef up teacher pay.

“Every great school must have a great leader. We need a new principal leadership academy to develop a new generation of school leaders.

“Schools should control their own budget. More power should devolve to principals, teachers and parents in their [own] neighborhood.

“We need to lengthen the school day and the [school] year, and compensate teachers for that time.

“We need to genuinely engage parents as partners, with respect. We need a parent resource center and a parent coordinator in every single school.

“We need to substantially increase the number of charter schools in L.A.

“We need to replace the culture of low expectations with a culture of accountability and respect – that means uniforms, that send our kids a message that they’re in school to learn, and that we’re all on the same team. That means a parent compact, that spell out their rights, and their responsibilities to be actively engaged in their children’s education.

“We need to reinvent vocational education and give our kids more job based skills.

“We need to better coordinate city and school district efforts… by bringing cutting edge law enforcement tools, like “ComStat” in and around school campuses to guarantee our schools are free from crime and gangs.

“We need to expand after school programs, and work together on joint use to transform schools into neighborhood centers.

“We need to wake up, and shake up the bureaucracy at the LAUSD. So today, I’m asking the California Legislature to usher in a new era of progressive reform in the state’s largest school district… based on five key principles:

1 – “The buck needs to stop at the top; fragmentation is failing our kids. Voters need to be able to hire and fire, one person accountable to parents, teachers and taxpayers – a leader who is ultimately responsible for system-wide performance.

2 – “All of the cities in L.A. Unified need to be fully engaged, and given a fair voice in the process.

3 – “We need to give the superintendent the power and authority to lead and manage fundamental change.

4 – “We need to preserve the voters’ voice – an elected school board, with powers designed to serve the needs of parents, not politicians.

5 – “We need to strengthen and invigorate the charter school movement, both to give families more choices, and to keep positive pressure on the school bureaucracy.

“My proposal will give the mayors of the cities in L.A. Unified a new oversight role in {school] district affairs. A council of mayors, with proportional representation, will oversee the hiring and firing of the superintendent, and approve the budget. This proposal will add accountability by giving the superintendent, not the school board, the authority to direct personnel decisions, grant charters, develop the budget, and design and manage the instructional program.

“It will preserve the current elected school board, but it will define and redefine its responsibilities. They [school board members] will be put directly in the service of L.A.’s parents… The elected board will continue to oversee disciplinary and transfer appeals … we will ask them to be advocates for parents and the communities they serve.

“They will review complaints, create school accountability report cards, conduct an annual survey of parents, and make recommendations based on the results. Their ultimate charge will be to help parents navigate through the system and solve problems with their kids’ schools.

“We’ll ask the Legislature to make these changes on a trial basis, with six years to show progress and results. We’ll measure what we did, and how we did it, and we’ll hold ourselves accountable as well."

Addressing teachers at the close of his speech, the Mayor stated “I know that this proposal will raise some concern, and spark some controversy. Change is never comfortable. I understand your fear. It’s hard to risk what you’ve got, when you’ve never had what you deserve.

“I believe that any serious effort to improve our schools begins and ends with you. I’ve been fighting for public education my entire life. It was a public school that gave me a second chance, and a public school teacher that showed me the path to success. The teachers’ union gave me a job, but more importantly, they gave me a calling…We will never fix our schools, without raising respect and reward for the teaching profession."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Open Thread on the State of the City

Mayor Villaraigosa's first State of the City speech is now over. Here's your chance to blog away on what the Mayor had to say. Here is a link to the text of the speech if you need to review it.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Tuesday

In a move that could have an impact on business in the San Fernando Valley and beyond, Mayor Villaraigosa has announced his support for a seven year phase-out of stage 2 jet aircraft at Van Nuys Airport. Stage 2 jets are older jets, considered noisier than newer jets and are the target of local homeowner groups.

Los Angeles City Council Member Alex Padilla has surpassed the $1 million fundraising mark in his bid to seek the Democratic nomination for the 20th State Senate District. His primary opponent, Assembly Member Cindy Montanez, has raised just over $600,000.

Valley VOTE has endorsed twin legislative proposals offered by Assemblyman Keith Richman and Senator George Runner that would breakup the LA Unified School District. The organization notes that it has been in favor of a school district breakup since its days as an advocate for San Fernando Valley secession.

More parking privileges for the elite, this time at an Antonio Villaraigosa press conference. An email went out to City employees that they could park in restricted , nearby spaces with no tickets or towing. Community activists and supporters invited to be window dressing for the photo op did not get the same memo and had to park some distance away from the event.

Jonathan Levey, a Democrat from Santa Monica, who is seeking to replace the termed out 41st District Assembly Member Fran Pavley, has literally written the book on his campaign. Levey has authored and published "Ideas in Action," which details his six point plan to improve the district. The book is available for download on his website and will be distributed to voters throughout the 41st.

Los Angeles City Meetings for Tuesday

8:30AM - Housing, Community, and Economic Development Committee
10:00AM - Los Angeles City Council
2:00PM - Information Technology and General Services Committee Meeting
2:00PM - Planning & Land Use Management Committee Meeting

Los Angeles County Meetings for Tuesday

9:30AM - Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Where's Antonio?

Important day for the Mayor as he delivers his "State of the City" speech tonight at 5:00 p.m. Also on the docket the Mayor will speak at a groundbreaking for the YWCA Jobs Corps Urban Campus and then later in the evening, a speech at the NAMIC Image Awards in Beverly Hills.

Open Thread for Tuesday

A devastating earthquake begins to shake the city of San Francisco in the morning hours of this day in 1906.

The first of two vicious tremors shook San Francisco at 5:13 a.m., and a second followed not long after. The quake was powerful enough to be recorded thousands of miles away in Cape Town, South Africa, and its effect on San Francisco was cataclysmic. Thousands of structures collapsed as a result of the quake itself. However, the greatest devastation resulted from the fires that followed the quake. The initial tremors destroyed the city's water mains, leaving overwhelmed firefighters with no means of combating the growing inferno. The blaze burned for four days and engulfed the vast majority of the city.

By the time a heavy rainfall tamed the massive fire, the once proud city of San Francisco was in shambles. More than 28,000 buildings burned to the ground and the city suffered more than $500 million in damages. The human toll was equally disastrous: authorities estimated that the quake and fires killed 700 people, and left a quarter of a million people homeless. The famous writer and San Francisco resident Jack London noted, "Surrender was complete."

Despite the utter devastation, San Francisco quickly recovered from the great earthquake of 1906. During the next four years, the city arose from its ashes. Ironically, the destruction actually allowed city planners to create a new and better San Francisco. A classic western boomtown, San Francisco had grown in a haphazard manner since the Gold Rush of 1849. Working from a nearly clean slate, San Franciscans could rebuild the city with a more logical and elegant structure. The destruction of the urban center at San Francisco also encouraged the growth of new towns around the bay, making room for a new population boom arriving from the U.S. and abroad. Within a decade, San Francisco had resumed its status as the crown jewel of the American West

Monday, April 17, 2006

Will Cardinal Mahony Obey Court Ruling?

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by Cardinal Roger Mahony (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, 05-1017), will His Eminence release the files on alleged pedophile priests Michael Baker and George Miller to District Attorney Steve Cooley?

The prosecutor has been trying to obtain 14 church counseling records dealing with allegations of child molestation. Similar records are also being sought in hundreds of lawsuits filed by sexual abuse victims, including more than 500 in California alone. The records might contain details from the priests’ confessions and treatment.

Cooley stated today that “It’s unfortunate that it took four years of litigation to reach this day of justice for victims. The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial to review this matter establishes an important principle that evidence of criminality be made to appropriate authorities.”

Cardinal Mahony has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of church funds to fight this case, and there is no indication yet that he will not continue the legal battle to protect what he has claimed is “privileged” information, despite that fact that there is no such “privilege” is either civil or canon (church) law. It exists only in the minds of the Cardinal and his attorneys.

Meanwhile, Father Baker continues to sit in county jail, after having been arrested at the airport, returning from a trip to Thailand.. Retired Father Miller was arrested at his home in Oxnard in 2002 and held on $500,000 bail. Baker had confessed his actions in 1986 and was sent for counseling for six months, and returned to his ministry in 2002.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said today that the court ruling “will have no effect on the ongoing efforts of the Archdiocese to settle the civil cases through mediation.” Does that mean, if the church can come up with enough money to pay off the hundreds of lawsuits, the church won’t have to release the records? Not likely. The victims and their attorneys have gone beyond the point of simply seeking restitution.

The experience of the Boston Archdiocese, much smaller than Los Angeles, presents a good profile of what we can expect in the near future. Boston Cardinal Bernard F. Law had taken the position that reports of pedophilia were simply “isolated incidents,” but as more and more victims came forward, it soon became clear that the clergy abuse was a systemic problem, kept out of the public eye by an elaborate culture of secrecy, deception and intimidation. Victims were either ignored or paid off.

Accused priests were quietly transferred from parish to parish, or sent for brief periods of psychological counseling. Cardinal Law and his deputies had detailed information on the archdiocese’s most serious molesters. By the end of 2002, over 1,200 priests had been accused nationwide, and five U.S. prelates, including Law, had been forced to resign.

What happed to Law? He is now head of a Basilica in Rome and an active member of several Papal commissions. Meanwhile, 550 abuse victims in Boston were paid $85-million in a 2003 settlement.

But it could be worse. The Maine Supreme Court last Friday ruled that the state must release its investigative records of 18 pedophile priests to the newspapers, in a suit brought by the Portland Press Herald. Although much of the criminality is beyond the statute of limitations, the fallout of this information is expected to have an adverse effect on the local parishes.

As for Cardinal Mahony, he is caught between what he believes to be a bishop’s duty to be a father to his priests, and to be especially compassionate to them, and his responsibility to his community and its laws designed to protect those to whom his priests minister.

He has lost sight far too long of the gaping wounds inflicted on vulnerable young people, their families and the confidence and trust of the laity. Some of his shepherds ran with the wolves.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Monday

West LA Online is speculating who might follow 5th District Councilman Jack Weiss when he is either termed out in a couple years, or on the unlikey scenario he would be elected to succeed City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo in the even more unlikley scenario Rocky becomes State Attorney General. Volunteers are being asked to line up now.

The Sunday Times has a story about state and local government efforts to reform eminent domain laws in light of a Supereme Court decision that allows them to take private land for transfer to developers. Most are banning the practice, only allowing eminent domain to be used to take land that would be used for clear, public uses such as building roads, bridges, schools, etc. Lets hope California is able to enact such legislation statewide, cause you know our City Council would never pass such rules.

David Zahnhiser, writing in this week's LA Weekly, details some of the high concept thinking going on at the third floor, with regards to how the LAUSD would be broken up and brought under Mayoral control. Not surprising, teachers' union president, A.J. Duffy is not happy with the ideas.

Not an LA story, but Jennifer Solis has an interesting take on the Duke-LaCrosse rape story. The first of a two part story here on the Sister City that will take a look at sexual crimes committed by college athletes.

He created the legendary 1970s sitcom "Good Times" and the film that was the basis for the series "What's Happening." He made millions and lived in a fine home south of Ventura Boulevard. Eric Monte was one of the young turks of television 30 years ago. Now, he's living in a Southland homeless shelter. The LA Times picks up his story from here.

Franklin Avenue notes the City of LA turns 225 this year and wants to know "where's the party?" Eric Garcetti responds with some ideas and a promise to consult Tom LaBonge for further celebration plans.

Republicans in Ventura County have some spelling challenges. Click here for more.

Here are a few highlights from the blog last week:
Arthur Winston, 100
Roberta Gillis, 69
Zine vs. The South Central Farmers
Car thief hits lottery, posthumously
The Elephant in the Room
City of Los Angeles Meetings for Monday

10:00AM - Public Safety Committee Meeting
1:00PM - Budget & Finance Committee Meeting
3:00PM - Audits & Governmental Efficiency Committee Meeting


Where's Antonio?

He's busy getting ready for his "State of the City" speech Tuesday evening, but the Mayor will get out of City Hall to speak at a reception in honor of Gloria Jeff, the new general manager of the city's Transportation Department.

For those of you who have been asking the Mayor to come clean your toilets, well he wasn't doing that this weekend, but he was at a homeless shelter washing people's feet for Easter. This has become a common activity lately, based on Biblical stories of washing the feet of the poor. However, we don't think that Jesus used rubber gloves, and in fact, the Bible tells of how after washing some leper's feet, Mary Magdalene dried them with her long hair.

Open Thread for Monday

Tax returns are due today! Normally, we file our taxes on April 15th, but because the 15th fell on a Saturday, you get two extra days.

The United States imposes an income tax on the taxable income of individuals, corporations, trusts, decedents' estates and certain bankruptcy estates. The income tax was first imposed during the Civil War. Current income taxes are imposed under various provisions of Subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

Staples is setting up a mobile copy and print center at the LAX post office at 9029 Airport Blvd. Hours: 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. tonight.

The following post offices in the City of Los Angeles will be open until 11:59 p.m. Monday to accommodate last-minute filers. They are:
  • Airport Station, 9029 Airport Blvd., Los Angeles
  • Van Nuys Main, Sherman Way and Haskell Ave., Van Nuys

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Not the sports page anymore – it’s the police blotter

A sexual assault case that brings up uncomfortable recent memories for Los Angeles sports fans will go before a grand jury in North Carolina tomorrow, April 17th. In the past three years L.A. has endured three such rape accusations, against two USC football players and a Lakers basketball star.

Even though all of the above were never found guilty, the charges themselves created considerable disruption and embarrassment to their school and teams, and became a source of racial tension. If the accused Duke University lacrosse players are not indicted by the grand jury, the city of Durham expects a similar unrest to the verdict in the Rodney King case in L.A.

The Duke athletes are caucasian, mostly from upscale towns in New York and New Jersey. Their accuser is a 27-year-old black woman, who works as a call girl to support herself and two children. She was one of two women hired from an “escort service” to strip dance at a team party the night of March 13th for $800.

According to the police investigation, news of which has been coming almost daily for the past month, the women arrived at the back door of a house, rented from Duke University by the three lacrosse team captains, at about 11:50 pm. One of the women (the accuser in this case) was quite drunk, and had cuts and bruises on her legs and face. This was shown by time-stamped photos taken at the party.

What happened in the next hour has not been clearly revealed, but at 12:53 am, a telephone call came in to 911 stating that a man at 610 Buchanan Blvd. (site of the party) had called her and her friend a racial slur. The police showed up two minutes later, but couldn’t find the woman who called 911. The police left at 1:06 am.

At 1:22 am, a security guard at a nearby Kroger grocery calls 911, to complain that there is a woman intoxicated in a car in his parking lot. The police arrive at 1:32 am. When they talk to the woman, she says she was raped at the Buchanan address. She is taken to a hospital where she is swabbed from head to foot for DNA samples.

Next week, the 46 white members of the lacrosse team were required to submit DNA samples to the North Carolina state crime laboratory. The comparison results came back negative on everyone.

The Durham district attorney, Mike Nifong, who is running for re-election May 2nd against two challengers, in this predominantly black city, was quoted as saying, “For most of the years I’ve been doing this, we didn’t have DNA. We had to deal with sexual assault cases the good old-fashioned way. Witnesses got on the stand and told what happen to them.”

Among the revelations coming out of Nifong’s office is that a third of the lacrosse team members have had previous run-ins with the law, including underage drinking, possession of an open container, late night disturbances and urinating in public.

According to a 2002 police report, the accuser gave a taxi driver a lap dance at a Durham strip club, then stole his car and led police on a high speed chase into the next county, where a sheriff deputy said that she tried to run over him. Her blood-alcohol level registered at more than twice the legal limit. She was able to bargain the charges down to a fine and probation.

Since the March 13th incident, Duke University has fired the lacrosse team coach, suspended the rest of the team’s schedule and joined with the mostly black local college, N.C. Central University, where the accuser is a student, in forums and community meetings to try to put a lid on the current racial tension in Durham.

Complicating this effort are campaigns by supporters of both the accuser and the Duke players to win public opinion to their side. One of the largest betting sites on the Internet was taking wagers on how many of the DNA tests would come back positive. Four matches gave odds at 4:1, seven to fifteen matches were listed at 15:1. The wagering was linked under “exotic props.”

Photographs of the accuser have also surfaced showing her returning to the Buchanan house, posing smiling, and lying down on the back porch. At an April 3rd candle light vigil, many speakers condemned the alleged assault. “Nobody deserves to be raped,” shouted Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP.

Protestors handed out flyers with the names and photos of the entire Duke lacrosse team, and taped them to garbage cans in front of the student union.

Next to “immigration” and “dump Bush,” the controversy continues to be the most talked about issue on the nation’s campuses, and will not go away, regardless of tomorrow’s decision by the Durham grand jury.

NEXT – PART TWO – The high rate of sexual assault cases among college athletes

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Open Thread for The Weekend

From humble beginnings, the Los Angeles City Council created the Department of Parks in 1889. At that time the city owned several pieces of land that were believed suitable for park purposes. They turned over these properties to the newly-organized Department of Parks. In a generous mood during Christmas of 1896, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith offered to donate five square miles of the Los Feliz Rancho to the City as a park. He said, "it must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people..." What followed was the development of several more parks including the original pueblo lands of the old plaza, Elysian Park, Pershing Square, and later Lincoln Park, MacArthur Park, Echo Lake Park, and Hollenbeck Park.

Arthur Winston, 100

He retired last month after almost 80 years on the job with the MTA, Thursday night he died in his sleep.

Arthur Winston worked for all the predecessor agencies of the MTA, starting in 1924. He had only missed one day of work and that was in 1988 to attend his wife's funeral. (Winston left the LA Electric Railway Company in 1928 and returned for good six years later.)

Winston was named "Employee of the Century" by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

In 1997 the MTA Board of Directors named the agency’s bus operating division in South Los Angeles after him.

His last job prior to his retirement in March was supervising a crew who cleaned and maintained MTA buses.

A native of Oklahoma, Winston is survived by a grand-niece.

Roberta Gillis, 69

Roberta Gillis, a longtime Democratic activist in the Santa Clarita Valley has passed away at the age of 69 from complications of a stroke.

Gillis was a past president of the Santa Clarita Democratic Club and a key player in a number of succesful election campaigns over the years, from local races to US Senate contests.

A native of Yugoslavia, Gillis arrived in the US in 1962. She is survived by her husband Ron, a member of the Board of Trustees of the College of the Canyons Community College District.

In lieu of flowers a donation may be made in honor of Roberta Gillis, to the Randy Wicks Scholarships Fund or the homeless shelter. Checks for the Wicks Scholarship Fund should be made out to:

SCV Press Club
c/o The Signal
24000 Creekside Rd.
Santa Clarita CA 91355

Put "Roberta" on the memo line

Friday, April 14, 2006

Zine vs. The South Central Farmers

This probably falls under the topic, "What the hell was he thinking?"

For some time, a battle has raged over a co-operative farm in South Central Los Angeles. The 14 acre farm has seen hundreds of families grow produce for their families and others.

Now this old, dead Republican Mayor is a big believer in private property rights, and I have to say that if the landowner doesn't want the farm anymore, well it is his right. However, given how unique the property is, and how much it has helped the community, my own personal hope would be the owner would consider options to keep the farm going.

But that's another story, lets get back to our favorite former motorcycle police officer, now City Councilman Dennis Zine.

According to reports, Zine went out to take a look at the farm. Nothing unusual in that, except that Zine did this at 10:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night, in his role of a reserve LAPD officer, in an unmarked police car, with two other officers in tow.

What happened next is a matter of dispute. Zine says he and the officers were harrassed by the farmers, the farmers' group says that one of the officers pulled a gun on a 13 year old girl. (We have two seperate press releases from the farmers' group on Mayor Sam 2, one here and another here. At present, Zine has not issued a formal statement of his own that we are aware of.)

The incident then prompted an angry response from a number of farmers and farm supporters who showed up to comment before the City Council the following day. That lead Zine to make a rare response to the public comment. You can hear the famers (in addition to a few unrelated public commenters) as well as Zine's angry comments by clicking here.

As I said, the facts depend on who you ask. Despite what happened, it takes us back to our main topic...
What the hell was Zine thinking?
Zine had every right as a Council member to go and view the site and find out what was going on. But at 10:00 at night, dressed as a police officer??? How the hell do you inspect a site in the dark?

It was already a voltaile situation and Zine, regardless of intention, made it even worse. With all due respect, it shows a complete lack of judgment in my view. A complete investigation is warranted, and perhaps by an agency other than the LAPD. If the famers' side of the story is true, then we have a big problem here.

I think its going to be a long summer.

Mayor Sam's Hotsheet for Friday

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Region 5, representing more than 22 regional locals and more than 20,000 workers, announced their unanimous endorsement of Jerry Brown for Attorney General. UAW made their decision after hearing Jerry Brown and Rocky Delgadillo debate the issues. International CAP Representative Pat Caccamo said: "Jerry Brown has been a champion for autoworkers and working men and women for many years and we are proud to support his campaign for Attorney General."

Martini Republic has an insightful post that points out we used to use bond indebteness to "build great things." Pat Brown used it to build the California Aqueduct and the University of California. Greig Smith and Tony Cardenas want to use it to fill potholes. My, the ever lowering standards of our time.

Friday morning, the City Ethics Commission will meet to discuss public financing for city campaigns.

City Meetings for Friday

9:00AM - Intergovernmental Relations Committee, Meeting Cancelled
10:00AM - Los Angeles City Council, Recess